Saturday, November 19, 2011

[Review] Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Title: Audition {goodreads}
Authors: Stasia Ward Kehoe
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 31/10/11
Publisher: Penguin Australia
RRP: $19.95
Source: For review (thanks Penguin!)
Age: 15+ Sexual content, but otherwise clean.
Pages: 450 [verse novel]

My Rating:

Once you've been chosen,
what step can you take...?

Seventeen-year-old Sara's dream of becoming a star ballerina is challenged when she falls for Remington, an older choreographer. Instead of success onstage, she becomes Rem's muse, which is a future she never considered--and one that threatens to break her heart.
My thoughts: 

I was so excited to read AUDITION! I jump to the chance to read any dancing YA novel. I admit, I was worried that my expectations wouldn't be met, but for the most part I was quite pleased with what I found.

This cover is also beautiful as anything, and I can definitely picture both models as Sara and Rem. The pose is intimate, and pretty dead-on. The cover could almost be a bit busy - if the quote wasn't blurred in like it is. The title & quote fonts are nice, and the title itself is simple yet speaks volumes, especially since Sara alludes to auditions a couple times throughout the novel. 

My Synopsis

AUDITION is the story of a budding ballerina [Sara] from the country who gets swept away into the world of the Jersey Ballet. Not only is she far away from home, from her best friend Bess and her family. She's living with her Spanish dancing instructor, an older man [Remington] is using her as a muse, she's stuck with younger girls in her class due to her country-bumpkin-ness. The girls at her new high school are pretentious and rich and look down at Sara's humble upbringing, and dreams of dancing in the future.

As Sara climbs up her ballet class ladder and develops from hunter green leotard to grey, Snowflake to Aurora, so too does her poisonous relationship with Remington.

I have to say, I LOVE the writing of this book! It's poetic and lyrical and just so easy to read. My favourite quotes are actually the ones that are on the front and back covers. Especially the front. I actually find it fitting that this book was written in verse, since the sequences and choice of words and rhythms and moves . . . it's like a different kind of dance. The writing is equal parts dancing, equal parts romance, equal parts anguish and inner-turmoil and self-discovery.

Sara is just your average girl. She gets pretty average grades, has a couple good friends back home, deals with trying to fit in with the rich and glamorous at Upton Academy, and catch up to the talented and esteemed prima ballerinas (especially Lisette) at the Jersey Ballet. She's always wanted to be a prima ballerina, but she has doubts. I liked that she doesn't just magically become amazing. There's a progression towards her improvement.

And then there's Remington. I have conflicted feelings about him and his behaviour through the course of the book. First off, Sara and him get intimate preeeeetty quickly. At the beginning, it's all really sweet, but slowly the cracks let out and we see Rem's true colours, and his true intentions. I actually love that their relationship seemed realistic, and I have no doubt that such a one exists somewhere. Their relationship is dysfunctional, and it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Sara needed this though, to finally realise what's important to her and why she got into ballet. She grows and begins to understand herself after being with Rem, and the revelations and in-betweens are what would push me to re-read this.

There isn't too much room to develop the secondary characters too much, considering AUDITION's format. I would have liked to have seen more of Julio, the Spanish dance instructor's son, who is pursuing music. He and Sara share an almost brother-sister-like bond, which I enjoyed. Also, her dancer girl friends kind of morphed together for me. None of them stood out particularly. To me, they were just names. Lisette is a different story, since she is the cause of much of Sara's distress. Even then, I would have liked more development, of at least one of them. Probably Lisette. They barely even talked, which was a shame.

That said, I did like the dancing descriptions. It's all so foreign to me, but I was able to imagine it - once I searched up the terminology. :P All in all, AUDITION is a satisfying debut novel that centralises the problems that can befall a budding ballerina, and her actions in trying to escape these problems. AUDITION is adorned with beautiful, romantic and illustrative writing, though lacking in secondary character development.

Recommended for people with an interest in dance, those looking for a dark relationship in the contemporary YA genre and fans of verse novels.


"'No. No. Like this, ballerina.'
His chuckling words waft through
The smoke in my ears.
I let him show me
Steps I have not seen in ordinary classes,

His expression all fire
As he shares his pas de deaux. (p. 174)
"I stand up slowly,
In the aftermath
Of Remington's words.
Knees weak.
Breath fast.


At Rem for thinking
This could all be so easy,
At Jane for her power,
At Lisette for her pirouettes,

At myself
For nodding again,
For decisions that are always off count,
For not knowing the question
I would want him to answer
If I ever had the courage to ask.
(pp. 344-345)


* cheapest Australian e-store price



All links from Booko, because I'm too lazy to search each individual store anymore.

AUDITION in a song
* links to a dance

1. "Ghost" - Ingrid Michaelson (Ingrid's newest song, and is perfect for AUDITION.)
2. "Cold As You" - Taylor Swift
3. "Dancing" - Elisa *
4. "Corner of your Heart" - Ingrid Michaelson *
5. "Gravity" - Sara Bareilles (Watching this dance always gives me the chills) *
6. "You Don't Know Me" - Ben Folds Feat. Regina Spektor
7. "Foolish Games" - Jewel
8. "You Outta Know" - Alanis Morisette (Sara's INNER thoughts to Remington, especially at one point of the book, when he's with Jane.)
9. "The Silence" - Mayday Parade
10. "Stupid" - Sarah McLachlan *

But *ahem* don't get me started with SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. We'd probably be here a while. Please do comment with additions to this 'playlist' (and more dances, please!) for AUDITION.

I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Challenge: YA Debut 2011 Challenge

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